It is Christmas Eve and the stepchildren ask Arthur Kipps to tell them a ghost story. He has a great story to tell—one guaranteed to fulfill all the expectations that kids bring to a Christmas sit-down story. Instead he decides to set pen to paper and write the story down. The Woman in Black thus becomes the recorded recollection of Arthur Kipps encounter with a ghost.
Solicitor Arthur Kipps arrives at the mysterious and foreboding Eel Marsh House to attend to the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow. Eel Marsh House is not just mysterious and foreboding, but come the high tide access from the property to the mainland is cut off. During the funeral service of Drablow, Arthur happens to spy a woman attired all in black. Frightening enough, yes, but the woman in black looks almost like she has just come up from the grave. Even worse: nobody but Kipps actually sees her.
When the caretaker of the manor, Keckwick, transports Arthur to Eel Marsh House, he once again spies the mysterious woman. As he is poring over the papers of the deceased, the sound of a pony and a trap begins to haunt him. Nevertheless, an overnight stay results in the pleading of Samuel Daily to go for a constitutional with his dog Spider as companion. While out, Arthur gets spooked and the dog gets spooked and general feeling of foreboding and an ominous foreshadowing of horror.
The ominous sense of dread is further heightened when Arthur comes across a locked door which is now unlocked for no apparent reason and inside he discovers a nursery overflowing with signs of the lives of former children. And then he sees that life has not completely exited from the enigmatic room: a rocking chair moves back and forth with no apparent motivation. Samuel Dailey arrives to rescue Arthur before he becomes victimized by the house which has almost attained a personified realization of evil and it is Samuel who relates the disturbing news that every time the mysterious woman has been seen in the past a child has died apparently by accident.
At this unsettling information. Arthur makes a rather quick exist to London and soon he gets married to betrothed, Stella with whom he has a beautiful child. Mere seconds after once more seeing the woman in black, his wife and child are both killed in an accident.